Psalm 100:4 instructs us to open our prayers to God with adoration: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise.” Jesus’ Model Prayer teaches us to do the same: “Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name …”. (Matthew 6:9) In II Kings 19, King Hezekiah gives us an example of this very thing:
Confronted with destruction at the hands of the Assyrians, Hezekiah brought his concerns to the Lord, which is just what we should do. But it is significant, and instructive to us, that he also began his prayer with praise:
Oh YHWH, the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth …”
His prayer continued from that point. But he began it with the right focus: on who GOD is, instead of the difficulty of his problem.
This is why scripture encourages us to start our prayers the same way. We will pray a different kind of prayer when we begin it with the realization of just Who it is we are addressing, and what He is able to do.
So let us learn to open our prayers the way the Psalms and Jesus commanded, and the way that Hezekiah modeled for us: “enter His courts with praise” — with a scripture that extols God’s greatness, with a worship song, or with thanksgiving for God’s great acts in the past — and see what a difference it makes in the way you pray!